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GENERAL INFORMATION:

Un-reinforced thermoplastics can be machined using high speed steel tools. For
glass-reinforced materials, carbide-tipped tools are necessary. In all cases, only
correctly sharpened tools should be used.
Due to the low thermal conductivity and low melting temperatures of plastics, good
heat removal must be ensured through proper chip removal and cooling with clean
dry air or a mild water-based cooling fluid.

MACHINING GUIDELINES
DIMENSIONAL STABILITY:
To produce dimensionally accurate parts, it is important to use stress-relieved
raw materials. Otherwise, machining operations may result in the release of
stresses, which can distort part geometry.
If large volumes of material must be removed, intermediate annealing may be
necessary after rough machining to relieve thermal stresses. Annealing times
and temperatures for specific materials can be obtained from Curbell Plastics
upon request.
Materials with high moisture absorption such as nylon may have to be
conditioned before processing. This involves drying the material and then
allowing it to reach equilibrium moisture content.
Most plastics have a much higher coefficients of thermal expansion than metals.
Close tolerance parts should be manufactured in temperature-controlled
environments. Parts intended for use in high temperature or low temperature
environments should be designed with tolerances that allow for dimensional
changes due to thermal expansion.
MACHINING METHODS:
1. TURNING
Fine, C-2 grade carbide inserts are recommended for turning.
Polished top surfaces will help to reduce material build-up, allowing for better
surface finishes.
Cutting edges should have generous relief angles and negative back rake to
minimize any rubbing action.
Rough cuts should be run at a feed rate of 0.015 IPR and finish cuts should be
run at a feed rate of 0.005 IPR or less.
2. MILLING
HSS tooling works well for most thermoplastics. Carbide tooling is recommended
for reinforced materials.
High spindle speeds and table travel are possible with adequate clamping. Care
is required when clamping stock to the mill bed to prevent deformation/springing
of the material.
Standard roughing end mills work well for roughing cuts. Finish cuts should be
made using either 2 flute or 4 flute mills, depending on the material and chip
characteristics.

A 90 to 118 drill point angle with a 9 to 15 lip angle is usually sufficient for
most plastic materials. Acrylic drilling requires a 0 rake angle.
The back side of plastic parts should be supported to prevent chipping during
drilling. Drilling into unsupported areas should be avoided.
The feed rate should be reduced when the drill gets close to exiting the material.
Deep hole drilling requires "peck drilling" for proper chip clearance and heat
dissipation. The drilling depth should not be allowed to exceed 3-4 times the drill
diameter before withdrawal.
Drills must be sharp. Incorrectly sharpened or dull drills can induce high levels
of stress into the workpiece.
Proper chip ejection is critical. Poor chip ejection will cause frictional heat buildup.
Signs of improper drilling techniques include:
Cracks
Poor finishes
Crazing
Dimensional changes (typically undersize holes)
Melted surfaces
4. SAWING
Thick-walled parts should be sawed with relatively thin blades to avoid excessive
frictional heat generation.
Well-sharpened, strongly offset saw blades are recommended.
Specially designed blades are available to optimize cutting for many plastic
materials including nylon and acrylic.
5. THREAD CUTTING
Threads are best cut using thread chasers. Burring can be avoided by using
twin-toothed chasers.
Die cutters are not recommended as re-cutting can be expected during removal
of the cutter.
A machining allowance, dependent on the material and hole diameter, should be
taken into account when using tap drills.

For inside pockets, end mills with rounded corners should be used whenever
possible. This will prevent the finished piece from having sharp inside corners,
which can potentially be areas of stress concentration.

6. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Failure to use proper machining techniques can result in localized overheating,
which can degrade plastic materials. This may result in the release of potentially
harmful decomposition products, which should be removed from the air by an
appropriate exhaust system. Tobacco products should be kept out of the
production area due to the risk of poisoning from the decomposition products
of certain plastics.

3. DRILLING
More heat is generated in drilling than in most other machining processes. Heat
reduction is critical to minimize machined-in stress.

All statements, technical information, and recommendations contained in these machining guidelines are presented in good faith,
based upon tests believed to be reliable and practical field experience. The reader is cautioned, however, that Curbell Plastics,
Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information, and it is the customer's sole responsibility to determine
the proper machining methods for a given material and part geometry.

www.curbellplastics.com 1.888.CURBELL

MACHINING GUIDELINES

MACHINING GUIDELINES
DRILLING

SAWING

The angle of twist of the drill bit should be approximately 12 to 16

Clearance
Angle ()

Rake
Angle ()

Cutting
Speed (ft/min)

Pitch
(in)

Clearance
Angle ()

Rake
Angle ()

Point
Angle ()

Cutting
Speed (ft/min)

Feed
(mils/rev)

ABS

15-30

0-5

980

0.078-0.315

8-12

10-30

90

165-650

0.008-0.012

Acetal
(copolymer)

20-30

0-5

1640-2600

0.078-0.197

5-10

15-30

90

165-650

0.004-0.012

Acetal
(homopolymer)

20-30

0-5

1640-2600

0.078-0.197

5-10

15-30

90

165-650

0.004-0.012

Noryl

15-30

5-8

980

0.118-0.315

8-10

10-20

90

165-320

0.008-0.012

Nylon 6

20-30

2-5

1640

0.118-0.315

5-15

10-20

90

165-490

0.004-0.012

PAI

5-10

0-3

2600-2950

0.118-0.50

5-10

5-10

120

260-320

0.008-0.004

PBT

15-30

5-8

980

0.118-0.315

5-10

10-20

90

165-320

0.008-0.012

PEEK

15-30

0-5

1640-2600

0.118-0.197

5-10

10-30

90

160-650

0.004-0.012

PET

15-30

5-8

980

0.118-0.315

5-10

10-20

90

165-320

0.008-0.012

Polycarbonate

15-30

5-8

980

0.118-0.315

8-10

10-20

90

165-320

0.008-0.012

Polyethylene

20-30

2-5

1640

0.118-0.315

5-15

10-20

90

165-490

0.004-0.012

Polypropylene
(homopolymer)

20-30

2-5

1640

0.118-0.315

5-15

10-20

90

165-490

0.004-0.012

Polysulfone

15-30

0-4

1640

0.078-0.197

3-10

10-20

90

65-260

0.004-0.012

PPS

15-30

0-5

1640-2600

0.118-0.197

5-10

10-30

90

160-650

0.004-0.012

PTFE

20-30

5-8

980

0.078-0.197

10-16

5-20

130

790-650

0.004-0.012

PVDF

20-30

5-8

980

0.078-0.197

10-16

5-20

130

790-650

0.004-0.012

Radel R

15-30

0-4

1640

0.078-0.197

3-10

10-20

90

65-260

0.004-0.012

Ultem

15-30

0-4

1640

0.078-0.197

3-10

10-20

90

65-260

0.004-0.012

Vespel

5-10

0-3

2600-2950

0.100

0.50

5-10

90-120

260-320

0.022-0.006

15-30

10-15

650-980

0.118-0.197

5-10

120

260-320

0.004-0.012

Reinforced
materials

MACHINING GUIDELINES

1.888.CURBELL www.curbellplastics.com

SPECIAL MEASURES:
Preheat material
to 250C

Heat before sawing:


From 2.25" - PEEK, PPS
From 3.25" - PET, PBT
From 4.00" - Nylon 6

Caution when using


coolants, susceptible
to stress cracking

Heat before drilling:


From 60mm diameter - PEEK, PPS
From 80mm diameter - PET, PBT
From 100mm diameter - Nylon 6

Use carbidetipped tools

TURNING

MILLING

The feed can be up to 0.55mm/tooth

The nose radius r must be at least 0.5 mm

Clearance
Angle ()

Rake
Angle ()

Cutting
Speed (ft/min)

Clearance
Angle ()

Rake
Angle ()

Side
Angle ()

Cutting
Speed (ft/min)

Feed
(mils/rev)

ABS

5-10

0-10

980-1640

5-15

25-30

15

650-1640

0.008-0.020

Acetal
(copolymer)

5-15

5-15

920-1640

6-8

0-5

45-60

980-1960

0.004-0.015

Acetal
(homopolymer)

5-15

5-15

920-1640

6-8

0-5

45-60

980-1960

0.004-0.015

Noryl

10-20

5-15

980

5-10

6-8

45-60

980

0.004-0.020

Nylon 6

10-20

5-15

920-1640

6-10

0-5

45-60

920-1640

0.004-0.020

PAI

2-5

0-5

300-330

2-5

0-5

7-10

320-390

0.002-0.003

PBT

5-15

5-15

980

5-10

0-5

45-60

980-1300

0.008-0.015

PEEK

5-15

6-10

920-1640

6-8

0-5

45-60

920-1640

0.004-0.020

PET

5-15

5-15

980

5-10

0-5

45-60

980-1300

0.008-0.015

Polycarbonate

10-20

5-15

980

5-10

6-8

45-60

980

0.004-0.020

Polyethylene

10-20

5-15

920-1640

6-10

0-5

45-60

920-1640

0.004-0.020

Polypropylene
(homopolymer)

10-20

5-15

920-1640

6-10

0-5

45-60

920-1640

0.004-0.020

Polysulfone

2-10

1-5

920-1640

45-60

1140-1300

0.004-0.012

PPS

5-15

6-10

920-1640

6-8

0-5

45-60

920-1640

0.004-0.020

PTFE

5-15

5-15

920-1640

10

5-8

10

490-1640

0.004-0.012

PVDF

5-15

5-15

920-1640

10

5-8

10

490-1640

0.004-0.012

Radel R

2-10

1-5

920-1640

45-60

1140-1300

0.004-0.012

Ultem

2-10

1-5

920-1640

45-60

1140-1300

0.004-0.012

Vespel

2-5

0-5

300-330

2-5

0-5

7-10

320-390

0.002-0.010

15-30

6-10

260-330

6-8

2-8

45-60

490-650

0.004-0.020

Reinforced
materials

www.curbellplastics.com 1.888.CURBELL

MACHINING GUIDELINES